Motor City

25 July 2015

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Lot 126

1938 Hacker-Craft 28' Twin Cockpit Runabout "Seaflow II"

  • Hull no. 827

$375,000 - $425,000


Scripps V-12 engine. Length: 28 ft.

  • One of only two examples known to exist
  • Fully-restored; includes custom trailer
  • Perfect for cruising the Great Lakes
  • “Hacker-Craft, America’s Fastest Speed Boats”


John Ludwig Hacker was one of the preeminent American naval architects of the 20th century. He was a prolific designer, beginning his career in the early 1900s. He was among the first designers to espouse the “planing” hull, realizing that, in order to go faster, the hull of the boat would have to ride on top of the water, not plow through it. In 1918, he designed six standard runabouts for the Belle Isle Boat and Engine Company—boats that became famous as “Belle Isle Bear Cats” and that launched Hacker to prominence. He established the Hacker Boat Company, and the Dolphin models, 22-foot and 26-foot, were among his first.

As the 1920s came to an end, America’s obsession with speed extended to all motorized vehicles: airplanes, automobiles, motorcycles, and speed boats. Records were set and broken, and faster hulls and bigger engines were the order of the day. Hacker-Craft boats were among the most coveted, and new models were introduced to great fanfare.

Hacker’s ads weren’t short of hyperbole: “Hacker-Craft are hand-built. ‘Skimping’ in materials and workmanship is never practiced in the Hacker shops to achieve lower prices. Price-cutting sins against quality—and quality is a paramount consideration in selecting a boat. You’ll discover that Hacker-Craft are not volume production boats. They are carefully and skillfully built from the finest materials known to the boat builders’ art. From their chromium plated cutwaters to their solid oak strut members every inch of a Hacker-Craft presents a sturdy picture of integrity and wholesome design. From their copper riveted (not screw fastened) double planked bottoms to their luxuriously comfortable genuine leather upholstering Hacker-Craft guarantee enduring quality and greater owner satisfaction. A Hacker-Craft is never expensive by comparison.”

While the Great Depression took a terrible toll on boat builders in general, John Hacker was a much better naval architect than he was a businessman, and by 1935, his partners accepted the surrender of his stock in the company “in payment of his indebtedness to the company.” Hacker was allowed to accept outside design commissions, but only for boats of non-competing size or style. The Hacker Boat Company soldiered on, and by 1937, the economic climate had improved enough that a new sales manager was hired away from General Motors. Total production numbers for the late 1930s are lost, but it is assumed that they built 200 to 300 boats of all sizes each year.

This Twin Cockpit Runabout is one of only two 1938 28-foot Hacker-Crafts known to exist today. Seaflow II was built in 1938 for a Mr. Sibley, of Detroit, Michigan, and features a unique Hacker design element: the “rumble seat” aft cockpit with a folding hatch cover that serves as the aft seat back when open. In 1948, this vessel was purchased by Stan Sayres, of Seattle, Washington, a well-known automobile dealer and early impresario of Gold Cup Hydroplane racing. From 1950 to 1956, Seaflow II served as the chase and tow boat for Slo Mo Shun IV & V, which were the prototypes of modern racing hydroplanes and world-record holders. She also served as the Sayres family boat, frequently seen on Lake Washington.

It is one of only two known surviving examples, and Sea Flow II has been fully restored, including its Scripps V-12 engine. Additionally, the custom triple-axle trailer is also included in the sale. This runabout has been fully prepared and vetted for return to the water, and it would make an exceptional summertime cruiser for the whole family.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more